Falcons, Hawks and Lucky Rabbits
“I swear I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life, but that…was…awesome.”
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Really, Ed? Starting a blog post about the ancient art of falconry with a quote from Tommy Boy?” Well sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. And besides, I want to be able to capture all the web traffic from people who might Google the terms “Chris Farley” and “Rabbit Hawking” together.
When I learned the Virginia Falconers Association was having a meet not far from where I live (which was right after I learned that falconry was practiced at all in this part of the U.S.), I couldn’t wait to see what it was all about. I will be writing more about the sport and my day, but for now I wanted to share my favorite photos from this amazing experience. I hope you enjoy them.
(The beautiful bird pictured above is a first year, or “passage” Red-tailed Hawk named Kingsley. Thank you C.B.)
A Gyrfalcon soars above rural Virginia.
Eva with her Red-tailed Hawk Kira.
A close look at the beautiful Harris Hawk.
Eva releases Kira in pursuit of rabbits.
We spotted three rabbits, or possibly one rabbit three times. But came back empty handed. The closest encounter involved a rabbit almost running into Eva's feet, but Kira was tied up at the time.
Kira scanning the woods.
As the hunting party moved, Kira flew from tree to tree above us.
Andrew's stunning Gyrfalcon, Arc.
Arc sitting patiently for photos while Andrew answers questions.
The birds seemed to be used to each other as everyone met before the hunt. but the only birds that can hunt together are Harris Hawks like the one in the foreground here.
Even without the hunting, which was an incredible experience, just being close to birds of prey is unforgettable.
Hawks (this is Kira the Red-tail) use their feet and talons to kill their prey. They are strong and wicked.